History Of The Ortinola Estate
Couched in the lush, green
hills of the Maracas Valley, St. Joseph there exists a pristine
estate called Ortinola. The original Ortinola Estate spanned an
impressive one hundred and thirty four and a half quarrees or approximately
four hundred and thirty (430) acres. Before the capture of Trinidad
by the British in 1797, the Spanish settlers of Maracas Valley earned
their livelihood by the growing and sale of tobacco. Between 1700
and the 1820's sugar, coffee and tobacco gradually disappeared and
were replaced by cocoa which became the chief crop of the valley.
Cocoa was cultivated on a very small scale on small estates or by
The Ortinola Estate has a rich history
owing to its diverse owners. Ongoing research continues to determine
the original grantee of the estate and whether it was acquired from
the Spanish government during the time of the Cedula of Population
or, if it was granted to the original owner by the British government
after they had secured the island from the Spanish. The first known
owner of the Ortinola Estate, according to local archival sources,
was Mr. C. Rigual. Mr. Rigual owned the estate in the year 1832
and also had in his possession a labour force of 34 slaves, which
at that time, and in the ward of Maracas, constituted a relatively
The first three decades of the 19th
century was a tumultuous time for the estate owners in Trinidad
as the colony had gained little from the slave trade which ended
in 1807. The island's sugar industry was under developed and the
labour force was insufficient to service the needs of the plantations.
The next blow to the Trinidad planters would be the passing of the
Emancipation act in 1834, which made the slave labourers legally
free. The name Ortinola would again surface in the primary sources,
this time under the proprietorship of a new owner, Cipriano Cipriani.
The time period during which the estate changed hands from Rigual
to Cipriani were particularly difficult years for cocoa planters
and this could have prompted Rigual to sell to the wealthy Cipriani.
In 1835 the claims for compensation for slaves revealed that the
Ortinola Estate was owned by Cipriano Cipriani who had under his
jurisdiction 36 slaves. This was further supported by the Public
Register which added that the estate was a partnership between Cipriani
and a gentleman identified as Andre and the estate was documented
as having 31 Praedial Apprentices.
The sources reveal that the Ciprianis
were a wealthy and prominent family in Trinidad. John Anthony Cipriani
arrived in Trinidad from Genoa after fleeing the tyrant rule of
Napoleon. He married Sophia Lieutard and the couple had two sons,
Sebastian Cipriani and Cipriano Cipriani. Sebastian went on to marry
the great grand daughter of Don Matas Mayan, a Galacian immigrant,
whose son was the Mayor of St. Joseph. In 1851 and 1867 Sebastian
was recorded as being an official interpreter of French, Spanish
and Italian in the multi-lingual colony. Cipriano Cipriani had a
number of occupations; he was an attorney and represented his mother
Sophia Cipriani in a land dispute case involving the property of
her deceased husband John Anthony. Also, in accordance with the
1836 Ordinance, that is, the " Ordinance for the making and
repairing and keeping in repair the roads and bridges in the colony
of Trinidad", Cipriano Cipriani was appointed Commissioner.
In addition, Cipriano was a land owner, which was quite evident
from the " Return of Actions entered in the Complaint Court,
between January 1st 1821 and December 31st 1824", where he
lodged a number of complaints concerning his estates' labour force.
In the decades after Emancipation
the Maracas Valley centered primarily around subsistence agriculture.
During the 1840's and 1850's it appears that the sources are silent
on Ortinola which could be linked to the decline in the interest
of cocoa as the Colony's colonial administration concentrated its
efforts on the salvaging of the sugar industry and the importation
of indentured labourers. The Index of Deeds has Ortinola recorded
as coming under the ownership of one Hypolite Borde in 1867 via
the court, with John Stone being the Official Assignee. The Trinidad
Royal Gazette records John Stone as being a Stipendary Justice who
usually oversaw land matters.
From the years 1867 to 1880 the local historical records are again
silent on the subject of Ortinola Estate. However, the estate's
name resurfaces during the cocoa boom period of the late 1870's
early 1880's. At this time the European based metropolitan countries
were attempting to extract cocoa from the West Indian colonies to
supply the growing demands of the expanding confectionary industry.
In Trinidad, Cadbury Brothers of Bournville, Birmingham, England
purchased two estates- ("La Merced" and "Maracas
Valley") in 1897. Even before the purchase of these two estates
by Cadbury Brothers archival sources reveal that Ortinola Estate
was acquired by C.Tennant and Company Limited for its cocoa growing
potential from about 1880. This Company, later called Tennants Estates
(1928) Ltd (after an amalgamation and reconstruction in the 1920's)
had, as one of its Directors, Lord Christopher Gray Tennant also
called Baron Glenconner.
It is clear from the schedule of properties
listed in the above mentioned Deed of Amalgamation and Reconstruction
in the 1920's that Tennants Estates owned many large estates throughout
the Island and whilst most appear to have been sugar estates (Tennants
being the owners of distilleries in Scotland) Ortinola remained
predominantly a cocoa & coffee plantation in respect of which
a Joint Venture existed between Cadbury Bros & Tennants Estates.
The Plantation Great House (which still stands, having been recently
restored between the years 2001 to 2003) was built in the 1890's
and was occupied by Mr J.P. Bain, Manager of Messrs Cadbury Brothers.
In fact, the diary of Sarah Morton,
wife of the early Canadian Presbyterian Missionary, Reverend John
Morton, reveals that in the year 1897 Reverend Morton had travelled
by horse carriage to Maracas Valley and late that evening visited
Ortinola Estate " to give communion at the house of Mr J.P.
Bain, Manager of Messers Cadbury, at Ortinola Estate".
Mr J.P. Bain was apparently also called
"Cocoa Bain" and was well known as an experienced cocoa
planter. He apparently lived in the Great House well into the 1900's
even after his retirement followed later by his daughter Janet Stanhope
Lovell and her husband John Lovell.
Tennants Estates (1928) Ltd eventually
sold Ortinola in the 1960's and in 1967 it became vested in a locally
incorporated Company, which still owns and manages the estate.
Research continues into the rich,
diverse history of this magnificent estate and presently efforts
are being made to determine the original Grantee of the estate during
the late 1700's to early 1800's. Knowledge of such Grantee's nationality
(Spanish, Italian, French or English) may also assist in determining
the meaning of the name "Ortinola".
Who knows, perhaps someday, somewhere,
someone reading this historical account of one of Trinidad's cherished
colonial treasures may provide these missing chapters of Ortinola's